i must confess II
Good afternoon! Let's talk confession again.
Foster's chapter on confession gives several suggestions for how to confess. They're all good, and I'd recommend you read them all. In this post, however, I'll stick to just one as an example. This is one method I recently attempted.
Are you ever sitting quietly at home or falling asleep at night just before you're bombarded by a memory of something you've done that's painfully stupid, regrettably mean, or jut plain wrong? This happens to me pretty often, but never at a time when I can actually do something about those memories. Worse than a ghost, they haunt me when I'm most vulnerable to their power.
First things first, we know that the feelings of shame that come from those memories are very real. Further, we know that shame is a sign that we're forgetting the truth of the forgiveness we've already received. We don't have to do any mental acrobatics, and there's no need for a long, drawn out process.
The simplicity of confession is that 1) it makes us put our shameful memory into words. Just saying it out loud helps us hear the actual magnitude of our actions. Silent memories can grow to be much worse than they actually are. 2) When we hear someone forgives us, it sets us on track to understanding that we are already forgiven.
what to do
Foster tells a story: he was haunted by things he'd done when he was young. He'd long moved on from them, but he couldn't shake the shame that came with them.
Finally, enough was enough. He sat down and made a list of everything that was bothering him. The first time, he listed the things from his early life. The next day, he wrote the things from his mid life. Finally, he wrote thing things from his recent life. Finally, he read the lists to a minister who was a friend of his.
His friend listened quietly, forgave him, then threw away the lists.
So then what? Is there immediate relief? Usually, yes. I did this recently, and felt freed of things that had stuck with me for over a decade.
For other things, the relief wasn't so immediate. But it did help me identify patterns that are imperceptible unless you look at the span of multiple years. Now that I'm aware of the patterns, I can actually do something about them and that makes me feel better.
Give it a shot if you feel so moved. If not, don't!
In the meantime: